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SI Joint Pain: Causes and Treatment

SI Joint Pain and Treatment in Saskatoon at Movement Chiropractic

SI Joint Pain and Treatment in Saskatoon at Movement Chiropractic

Sacroiliac joint pain (SI joint pain) can cause minor discomfort in the low back, buttocks, hips and legs, or it can be felt as a great deal of pain that can inhibit movement and impact your quality of life. Seeing a team of professionals to discuss your SI joint pain symptoms, determine the source of your pain and develop a treatment plan is a complete medication free approach that can take you from painful to pain-free.

What are SI Joints?

There are two joints between the sacrum and ilia (commonly called hip bones) called sacroiliac joints. They connect the sacrum to the pelvis. The sacrum (commonly called your tailbone) is a triangular bone at the bottom of the spine below the lumbar spine. You can picture the base of the spinal column as the shape of a butterfly. The centre part or body of the butterfly is the sacrum and the wings are the ilium (hip bones). The illium are connected to the sacrum making  the SI joints. When the joints become inflamed due to trauma, sprain or irritation from overuse a condition of sacroiliitis is created. The SI joints are a bit like the springs that assist in absorbing impact and allow you to safely walk, run and jump. When they are not functioning optimally this affects your body’s ability to move without pain.

What is SI Joint Pain?

Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain is experienced when the SI joint is injured or damaged and varies from mild to severe pain felt in the lower back or buttocks where the sacrum meets the hip bones. SI pain can sometimes be resolved quickly if symptoms are not severe or it can be an involved process if symptoms are chronic (lasting more than 3 months).

Why Does SI Joint Pain Happen?

SI joint pain happens for two reasons: Hypermobility – loose ligaments caused by pregnancy or injury to ligaments which cause the SI joints to move too much. Hypomobility – when the joints do not move enough. This creates mechanical joint pain which, if left untreated, can progress to degenerative joint disease. SI joint pain can also be called SI joint dysfunction  specific evaluation and examination is needed to rule out lumbar disc involvement and neurogenic (nerve) pain which can have symptoms similar to SI joint pain.

What Are the Symptoms of SI Joint Pain?

Symptoms of SI joint pain can range from mild to severe and can be felt in the low back, buttocks, hips, groin, and upper thighs. SI symptoms can include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the legs
  • The legs feel weak
  • Pain or discomfort while standing, sitting or walking
  • Pain or discomfort while climbing stairs
  • Pain or discomfort balancing on one leg
  • Sitting in a car is painful or uncomfortable, becoming unbearable on longer travel times
  • Transitioning from standing to sitting or sitting to standing triggers discomfort or pain (this is the most common primary symptom)
  • Burning sensation in the pelvis
  • Pelvic pain when rolling over in bed.

What Causes Sacroiliac Joint Inflammation?

Joint Injury

  • Car accidents
  • Injury from falling
  • Heavy lifting
  • Twisting – especially bending and twisting with repetition
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth

Joint Degeneration

  • Different leg lengths
  • Chronic Biomechanical symptoms; where the pelvis has to accommodate another spinal issue
  • Surgery – fusion of the spine
  • Osteoarthritis
  • SI joint infections.

Pregnancy and SI Joint Pain

In each trimester of pregnancy the body releases a hormone called Relaxin which loosens the muscles and ligaments in a woman’s body to accommodate a growing baby. Relaxin may loosen the ligaments in the SI joints resulting in hypermobility and subsequent SI joint pain.

Does SI Joint Pain Go Away After Pregnancy?

After pregnancy SI joint pain may resolve itself, however we recommend strength building exercises to support your low back, abdomen and pelvic floor. Your pelvis may be misaligned, the ligaments in your SI joints may be too loose and the surrounding muscles and joints may have been affected during pregnancy, causing your SI joints to tighten. We recommend follow-up care with a pelvic floor physiotherapist, massage therapist and chiropractor to determine a holistic health care approach to your pain.

What is the Treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Pain?

There are several treatment options for SI joint pain but it’s important to determine the source of the pain in order to find the best treatment. There are things you can do to alleviate the pain and these are important, effective and useful to cope with discomfort. However, it is essential to find the root cause of why the SI joints are inflamed so you can remove the pain with treatment rather than apply a bandaid to the pain. A combination of the following treatment options will help you adopt a holistic approach to the treatment of your SI joint pain to treat the pain itself and then treat the source of the pain.

  • Ice packs – ice reduces inflammation.
  • Compression
  • Support brace or belt – can provide immediate support for pelvis and SI joints, although this should be considered a short term option because overall goal is to achieve healthy joint function.
  • Chiropractic – mobilization and manipulation have been shown in high quality studies to be one of the most effective treatments for SI joint pain.
  • Massage – provides pain relief and increases circulation in the area. Massage treats the symptoms and it is recommended to add additional therapies to identify and treat the source of the pain.
  • Heat – relaxes muscles.
  •  Anti-inflammatories such as Advil or Aleve to reduce inflammation within the SI joint to allow treatment on the joint.
  • Custom orthotics – can improve gait and support the SI joints to function without pain.
  • SI joint injections
  • Surgery – SI joint fusion – screws, rods and sometimes bone grafts are implanted which help to stabilize the joints and prevent movement. This is a last resort option when conservative care is not successful.

If you are concerned about SI joint pain we would be happy to meet with you to address your concerns and work with you to create a health plan to help you back to healthy movement. Call our office or fill out our online booking form to request an appointment.

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